Big Oil threatens Everglades with fracking

Florida governor supports attack on environment

By John Peter Daly

December 6, 2012

Fracking is linked to climate change in the long term but has the immediate effect of water contamination. In other areas, “fracked” water has become flammable.

Big oil and gas companies are pushing forward with plans to begin “fracking” in Florida on land just outside the Big Cypress National Preserve—the gateway to the Florida Everglades—just 45 miles west of Miami. The Everglades are part of a water system of subtropical wetlands in Florida that extends throughout the southern part of the state.

Fracking, or induced hydraulic fracturing, is a big profit-making technology that extracts oil and gas by injecting water, sand and chemicals into rock to access previously unreachable reserves. Fracking is linked to climate change in the long term but has the immediate effect of water contamination. In other areas, “fracked” water has become flammable.

The Everglades rest on a limestone shelf leading out into the Florida Bay connecting to Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River. This means that fracking in Florida puts the state’s entire water system at risk of contamination. Big Cypress National Preserve, part of the Everglades ecosystem, by itself constitues 42 percent of the water in the Everglades.

The Environmental Protection Agency has exempted oil and gas companies from complying with “green completion” measures that would at the very least force them to remove contaminated waste from sites where oil and gas are extracted by means of fracking until 2015.

However, bans and moratoriums have gone into effect in other states such as Vermont, Maryland and North Carolina, from emerging movements of people opposed to the continued destructive quest for more fossil fuels, which is central to the creation of world-wide climate change.

Not everyone agrees. “It’s nothing to be afraid of,” claims Ed Pollister from Century Oil, one such company that is waiting for approval of the Department of Environmental Protection overseen by Republican Governor Rick Scott to begin fracking. Scott himself promotes the fairy tale that climate change is not real—and approval means big profits for oil and gas companies, along with a tremendous environmental disaster.

“Fracking is inevitable in South Florida, maybe within a year,” continued Pollister. What Pollister and the big oil and gas companies may not realize is the potential of a people’s movement to push back against environmental destruction, and fight for a change where the people and the planet come before profits, especially from fracking.

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